Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Guidelines
Curricular practical training is one type of work permission available to F‐1 students. It allows students to get real-world work experience related to their field of study.
According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services regulations, this employment may be an internship, cooperative education job, a practicum or any other work/study experience that is required for the degree (as defined in the course catalog) or for which academic credit is awarded. The employment must be offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school.
Because CPT is defined as "curricular," only work that is directly related to a student's major field of study — and that is important for a student's academic progress — may be considered for approval.
To be eligible for CPT, students must:
- Currently be in F-1 status
- Have been enrolled in a full course of study for at least one academic year
- Plan to be enrolled in at least 12 credit hours throughout the duration of the CPT
- Have an off-campus internship job offer*
- Register for 1 credit hour per semester tied directly to a Tri-C course while on CPT. The credit hour must be listed in the program sequence of the student’s major and completed during the associated semester.
*Students must submit a letter from the employer on company letterhead that includes the following:
- A job description indicating the tasks that will be part of the CPT experience and how it relates to the student’s major. The letter must state that the student will be working exclusively on these tasks. Any deviations must first be approved by Tri-C.
- Start and end dates for the internship/field experience.
- The number of hours worked per week and physical location of the work.
- Company EIN# (only if student needs to apply for Social Security card)
- Supervisor’s contact information (name, email, phone number and address)
After filling out Section 1 of the CPT application form, you must meet with your program manager or faculty member so they can complete Section 2. They will also help you determine the appropriate CPT course in which to enroll.
Once you complete your CPT application packet, schedule a meeting with your international student adviser. Bring the entire packet to your appointment, along with the following documents:
- Job offer letter, printed on official company letterhead
- Proof of registration for CPT internship/field experience course
You must apply at least five business days before your requested CPT start date, and you may only begin work after receiving your new Form I-20 showing CPT authorization (Page 2, Employment section).
- CPT may be authorized for a maximum of 20 hours per week during the academic year.
- A student may work full time (beyond 20 hours per week) under the following circumstances:
- During official winter or spring break as defined by the academic calendar
- During summer term
- CPT may be authorized on a per-semester basis only. If your position will last more than one academic term, you must submit new application materials before the start of the new term.
- A student may not begin working until they receive the DSO endorsement signature on the I-20 (Page 2, Employment section).
- Students who complete more than one year of full time CPT are ineligible for post-completion OPT.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Application Process
Step 1. Print out the CPT application packet. CPT authorization takes one week to process and requires a completed CPT packet along with several other documents that may take you time to compile.
Step 2. Meet with your program manager or faculty member to discuss your CPT plans in detail and ensure that the training is integral to your curriculum. They will need to complete a form (included in this packet) supporting the internship/field experience and may also help you register for the CPT credit hour, which must be listed in your program sequence.
Step 3. Obtain an offer of employment on company letterhead from your potential employer. Check the “Letter From Employer” page of the CPT packet for details on what should be included.
Step 4. Meet with your international student adviser so they can review your documentation.
Step 5. If all requirements are met, your adviser will approve your CPT and create a new I-20 showing the CPT approval. No work, paid or unpaid, may take place until your CPT I-20 is printed and both you and the adviser sign and date it (Page 1). Your adviser must also provide an authorizing signature in the Employment section (Page 2) before work begins.
Step 6. If any details of your internship/field experience change, you must email documentation to your international student advisor so they can update your CPT in the Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Be sure to keep all I-20s permanently in your personal files.